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Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant # SM-05-019,
in collaboration with Albuquerque Public Schools, the University of South Florida, and the Jason Foundation, Inc.

How Parents Can Improve Teen Safety and Well-Being

Parents are important in suicide prevention

Suicide prevention programs that work involve all parts of a teen's life: home, school, and the entire community. You have a unique chance to help teens at home. This page will teach you how to identify suicide warning signs in your child or your child's friends. It will also teach you how to get them the help they need.

You can prevent suicide by

Common myths about suicide


Warning Signs

  1. Suicide threats: Teens say that they think about or want to commit suicide
  2. Previous Attempts: Teens have tried to kill themselves before or hurt themselves on purpose
  3. Depression: Teens feel sad or easily annoyed, have trouble paying attention to schoolwork, or avoid friends and family
  4. Unusual behavior: Sudden changes in how they look, think, or act
  5. Final arrangements: Teens give away belongings, visit friends to say goodbye, or talk about funeral plans

What you can do - Follow the "LIFE" model

Four simple letters will remind you how you can help teens who may be thinking about hurting themselves:

Listen: Let them talk openly about how they feel. Try not to give advice. Avoid acting shocked or angry. Do not make them feel guilty. Do not minimize or take their problems too lightly.

Insist on honesty: Talk honestly with them about how serious their thoughts and feelings are. Never promise to keep what they tell you a secret.

Feelings: Tell them that you care and that you want to know how they feel.

Extend a helping hand: Let them know that they are not alone and that you are there to help. DO NOT leave a suicidal teen alone. Be willing to seek professional help and guidance. For example, contact a doctor, school counselor, psychologist, teacher, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources:

The Jason Foundation, Inc.:
A non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
English: 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)
en Español: 1 (888) 628-9454

New Mexico Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1 (505) 277-3013

Suicide Prevention Resource Center:

Southwest Family Guidance Center & Institute:
1 (505) 830-1871

American Association of Suicidology:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
1 (888) 333-AFSP

Thank you for reading!

If you would like to print a copy of this information for future reference, a training pamphlet for parents is available (FRONT | BACK).

The University of South Florida
Department of Psychology
4202 East Fowler Avenue, PCD4118G
Tampa, FL 33620-7200

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